ADVENT 2022 - MAKE THE YULETIDE GAY
Pastor Emily Ewing (they/them) helps us get in the mindset of Advent with simple faith practices to celebrate Advent at home. Whether done with a family, on your own, or with a loved one on Zoom, their suggestions will help you set intentional times to connect with God throughout the season. Read here.
Take a moment to dwell in the text from Psalm 72 above.
Who are the poor and needy? How are they oppressed?
What might prosperity, justice, righteousness, and deliverance look like for them?
How can you help, in even the tiniest ways, to make that vision a reality?
Today we recognize the Transgender community. Trans people are roughly defined as people whose sex as assigned at birth and gender identity do not coincide. Some trans people undergo medical therapies to help their bodies coincide with their gender identity. Some trans people will change their name or pronouns to better match their gender identity. Some trans folks will do none of these things. There is no right or wrong way to be or appear transgender. We typically think of trans people as falling into the binary categories of male and female, but, at current, we understand transgender to be an umbrella term that includes those who understand their identity as outside of the gender binary as well as those who identify as exclusively male or female.
We are so grateful for the trans people throughout the world and the wonderful gifts and insights that they bring to our understanding of gender in society.
To learn more about transgender people and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
Today we recognize the Non-binary (nonbinary) or Enby community. Nonbinary people are people whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth, but who don't identify as male or female. For some this means that they understand themselves as somewhere in between male and female, others feel like a mix of the two, and still, others know themselves as neither male nor female and something outside the binary altogether. This identity falls under the Trans umbrella, although not all nonbinary people consider themselves trans, and is also an umbrella term with many identities beneath it.
Some nonbinary people will undergo a medical transition to better align their body and sense of self. Some nonbinary people will change their name or pronouns. Some nonbinary people will dress differently. Some nonbinary people will do some or none of these things.
Historically, people expect nonbinary people to appear with a certain level of androgyny; however, there is no one way to be nonbinary. Some nonbinary people will appear very masculine or feminine or androgynous or something different altogether and these are all wonderful and valid displays of the diversity of the nonbinary community.
To learn more about nonbinary people and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
Decide on a non-profit or charity that you would like to support this Advent season and decide how you would like to support them: financial gift, donation of physical items, donation of time and skill? Make a plan to make it happen.
Not sure who to donate to? Try:
Today we recognize our Two-Spirit siblings! Two Spirit is an umbrella term used across indigenous cultures to refer to someone who fulfills a third-gender or gender-variant ceremonial and social role in their community. Some might think of this as the indigenous version of nonbinary; however, nonbinary is solely a gender identity, while Two Spirit is considered a spiritual identity as well, alluding to the Two Spirit person's understanding of both male and female gender roles and the belief that they have knowledge of or in some way dwell between this world and the spirit world.
Two Spirit ceremonial and social roles will vary from one Tribe or Band to the next and many have traditional words that more accurately describe those roles in their specific culture.
Two Spirit people might or might not dress in ways that identify their indigenous or two spirit identities, might or might not change their name or pronouns, and might or might not also hold a non-heterosexual sexual identity.
To learn more about Two-Spirit people and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
Consider the people you identified as poor and needy on December 2nd (or consider again who the poor and needy in our world might be). What rivers need to be opened or mountains threshed to improve their situation? What ways do you see God standing with the poor and needy in the face of adversity?
What things stand in the way of queer liberation and how do we see God offering sustenance in an otherwise barren land?
It's also #TechnicolorTuesday so, be sure to stop by our social media to tell us where the color is in your world this week!
Today we celebrate men who love men!
Historically, the rainbow flag was understood to be the "gay" flag, but as it has become a symbol of all things LGBTQIA2S+, a new flag for the men loving men or MLM community has been developed. The MLM community includes but is not limited to any man who identifies as gay, bisexual, gender non-conforming (GNC), or transgender, with the white line of the flag specifically standing for those who are enby, GNC, or transmasculine, and who also loves men of any of these identities. Love in this case can be taken to include romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or both.
To learn more about Men Loving Men and Gay Men, check out the links below:
He Qi is a contemporary Chinese artist whose work depicts bible stories through the lens of Chinese culture and features Chinese characters. You can view his renditions of the stories of Advent and Christmas here.
Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had had consideration for his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.’ Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. They said to her, ‘No, we will return with you to your people.’ But Naomi said, ‘Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.’ Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
So she said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said,
‘Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!’
When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
It's #TheologicalThursday so join us on our socials and tell us, what do you think or wonder about God this week?
Pastor Elle Dowd (she/they) is an author, activist, campus minister, and PhD student. In this article, she helps us see the queerness of Mary and the coming of Jesus.
Today we recognize those who are genderfluid. To be genderfluid means that your gender identity is not fixed but shifts and changes. The time period between changes can range from very occasionally to monthly, weekly, daily, minute to minute, etc. and these changes might happen with some regularity or none at all. Some genderfluid people will experience these changes slowly and progressively and others will sense a more dramatic shift. These shifts might come with changes in appearance, dress, name, or pronouns and some people may seek out care to align their body more with their gender experience. This can be confusing for those who are not familiar with genderfluid people. If you are ever unsure of the correct name or pronouns - of anyone, genderfluid or not - please remember to ask, rather than assume.
Genderfluid is an umbrella identity that has several highly specific identities beneath it and falls under the Nonbinary umbrella as well.
To learn more about genderfluid people and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
Today we recognize the Aromantic (Aro) community. People who are aromantic experience little to no romantic attraction to any gender, making this a romantic identity rather than a gender or sexual identity. Some aromantic people will occasionally experience romantic attraction while others won't experience any. Aromantic people might never or rarely experience things like crushes, generally don't feel the need to have a romantic relationship in order to be fulfilled, and can struggle to relate to romantic stories. Studies show that while aromantic people do not or rarely desire a romantic connection, they may still desire sex and sexual connection.
Aromantic is an umbrella term with several more specific identities beneath it. To find out more about these identities and the aromantic community, check out the links below:
Gender and sexuality differences were, for far too long, considered diagnosable conditions, things that people thought we could and should be cured from. Hence, the pervasiveness of conversion "therapy". Rather than using Scripture to say that we must be cured, I wonder how we might be the cure. This passage about the early disciples, the way that they are separated from the others, that none will join them but will watch from afar, reminds me of the ways that the world looks at the queer community when we are in the fullness of ourselves. We are a bit of a wonder, a way of being that speaks to freedom and depth of self-understanding many will never know. Similar to the way this separated group was able to heal many by faith and became respected and revered for it, I wonder how the queer community might really be a balm for the world. How can our experiences of gender and sexuality and the ways that they interplay with our faith be healing for others?
Today, we recognize Women Loving Women (WLW) and Lesbians. Women loving women includes anyone who identifies as a woman - whether homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, gender non-conforming, or trans - and has a romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or both towards other similarly identified women. Lesbian has historically referred to cisgender (ie. not trans) women that have a romantic attraction to other cisgender women; however, this has begun to shift over time and now often includes women of any gender journey who are also exclusively attracted to those who express their gender as female.
To learn more about Lesbians and Women Loving Women, check out the links below:
Many people enjoy dressing up as characters from the Christmas story, including drag queens. Today you’re invited to watch Manila Luzon, Peppermint & Alaska Thunderfuck’s We Three Queens.
Today we recognize the Asexual community. Asexuals, or Aces, experience little to no sexual attraction to others and often identify on a spectrum that includes their emotional, romantic, and spiritual attraction to others. They often describe their attractions in terms of homo-, hetero-, bi-, or pan- preceding the word romantic (e.g. homoromantic, biromantic, etc.). Most asexual people desire romantic relationship and intimacy in emotional or romantic ways but are not drawn to sex as a way to express that intimacy. This doesn't mean that asexual people will never have or never enjoy sex or sexual activity. Each asexual person's sense of sexual attraction and desire for sex will vary and should be a point of kind and respectful conversation for potential partners.
Asexuality is an umbrella identity that encompasses several more specific identifications. To learn more about asexuality and how to be a better ally to ace people, check out the links below:
As queer folks, we know a thing or two about this. As we come out, we release ourselves from the shadows, cast our demons over the rocks, and choose to live in the bright light of our true, God-given selves. And, when we do this, others around us come out too. It might be fellow queer folks who are emboldened in their true selves or allies who proclaim their love for us and those around us, but as we claim ourselves things around us change. That change is often scary for those who still live in shadow and, rather than acclimate to the light, they ask us to leave town. It's a hard thing to live through, but we see here, God in Jesus has already been there, already knows this life and what it's like to be outcast in this really particular way. By claiming and living as the people God made us, we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, helping to show the world how bright things can really be. Hold on to your light and the light of Christ that shines out from you, broadcast it, let it be seen, even if you're a single lighthouse on a nighttime shore.
Today we recognize those who identify as queer. This is probably the most broadly defined identity in The Great Big Acronym and that's largely because it allows people to identify in ways that are different than the "norm" without needing large amounts of structure or definition. Mostly this identity is used to say that in some way your sexual, romantic, or gender identity - or some combination thereof - differs from what society considers "the norm". Some people will identify as queer because they resist the definition and structure of defined identities, others because their identity or sense of attraction is not accurately defined in one of the other letters, and still others because their identities are beautiful and complex which makes queer a quick explanation. There are so very many ways to be queer!
"Queer" as a word has historically been used as a slur against pretty much all of the LGBTQIA2S+ community but has more recently been reclaimed. While some people don't receive the word well because of trauma, it is a perfectly valid identity and also frequently serves as an umbrella term or shorthand for LGBTQIA2S+ community.
To learn more about those who identify as queer, check out the links below:
We all know the tropes of Christmas rom-coms and books. A hot shot big city woman falls in love with a widowed father of a daughter. By the movie's end, she’s engaged and ready to be a wife and a mother. While that may be a happy ending that some dream of, it’s not the ending or even that story that all of us want to hear.
In recent years, storytellers have gifted us with increased representation, and there are many great books that celebrate queer Christmas love too!
Here is what we are watching and reading this yuletide:
Kiss Her Once For Me - Queer holiday rom-com featuring Ellie Oliver who is heartbroken by a woman and then has a fake engagement to … her brother.
Single All the Way - MLM besties become more in this 2021 Netflix original. Also, there’s a very cute pet!
You’re A Mean One, Matthew Prince - Will Matthew’s heart grow three sizes this year? Hector Martinez may be able to help.
Mombian published this list of LGBTQIA2S+ Christmas books for kids last year.
Comment your favorite on our social media post!
Today we recognize the bisexual community! Contrary to popular belief, being bisexual does not mean that you are exclusively attracted to men and women, but does mean that you have the capacity to form attraction or relationship to more than one gender. Bisexual people might or might not experience attraction to multiple genders at the same time, might or might not experience that attraction in the same way from gender to gender, and might not feel that attraction to one gender to the same extent as any other. Bisexuality is an umbrella identity encompassing other non-binary sexualities.
Bisexual people frequently experience what we call "erasure," even in the LGBTQIA2S+ community. This means that people will lump bisexual identities in with other more broad sexual identities, will say that bisexual people must really be straight, gay, or lesbian, be told that there's no reason to discuss their sexuality - especially when they're in a heterosexual appearing relationship -, and various other forms of invalidation of the bisexual identity. This erasure often leads to higher incidences of anxiety, depression, domestic violence, sexual assault, and poverty than other cisgender members of the queer community - who are already at a disadvantage in these areas compared to the general population.
Bisexual people are perfectly valid in their identity and every right to claim who they are, no matter what their relationship looks like from the outside!
To learn more about bisexual people and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
2 Samuel 7:18-22 (NRSV)
Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it. Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
Today, we're keeping it simple. We fervently hope and pray that you find yourself speaking words similar to those of David in today's scripture reading. We hope that your world is so filled with abundance that you look back and wonder what you could have done to deserve such joy. We hope that you feel so known by God that you hardly know what more to say in your own prayers. And we hope that this next year brings you the sort of joy that makes you want to thank God for all their wonders and works. Amen! May it be so!
Holy Blackness: The Matrix of Creation
In this sermon from 2019, Dr. Wil Gafney expands our understanding of the beauty of darkness. Listen or watch here as the longest night of the year approaches.
Today we recognize the agender community. Agender, sometimes called genderfree or genderless, people understand themselves as not male, female, or any combination thereof but rather as gender neutral or without gender. Agender is one of the more specific gender identities that falls under nonbinary.
Agender people may change their name or pronouns to more clearly align with their lack of gender, and might undergo medical procedures to align their body and sense of self. An agender person may or may not change the way that they dress or appear to attain a more neutral aesthetic. To learn more about agender people and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
Who else is stressed and overwhelmed as the Christmas gets closer? Here’s some affirmations for you to write on a post-it note for your bathroom mirror, save as alerts in your phone, or repeat as mantras in your head.
My truth is joy. Speaking my joy brings peace.
God is with me now, as I am. God will be me, whoever I become.
My love embodies the holy.
None of these speak to your heart? Take a few moments to create the affirmation that your heart needs to hear.
The parallels between the story of Hagar and the experience of the queer community in the church are stunning. Like Hagar, the queer community was included to some extent in the church as long as they were upholding the dreams and hopes of the institution, but when offering even the smallest of threats by simply existing as ourselves, we were banished along with whatever we'd bourne in that place. God doesn't leave Hagar. In fact, just when Hagar is at the greatest point of her despair and fears that she and her son will die and she will be forced to watch, God shows up. God did indeed make a great nation of the son of Hagar, Ishmael, one of the prophets of Islam and an ancestor of Muhammad. We have and continue to be persecuted as queer people in the world and God keeps showing up in our lives to carry us through the hardest of times. We hear so much from people that are afraid of what it means to be or have LGBTQIA2S+ people in their world because God has indeed made us a great and diverse nation and God continues with us still.
It's #TechnicolorTuesday and we'd love to know where the color in your world is this week. Did you see some great Christmas lights? Some rainbow wrapping paper? Let us know in the comments on our Technicolor Ministry socials.
Today we recognize Intersex people. Intersex people are those whose bodies have not offered them a clear delineation of biological sex. Biological sex is much more complicated than we tend to believe, composed of various genetic, hormonal, and organic parts that can come together in a staggering number of ways beyond the "simple" male and female binary. Some intersex people have ambiguous genitalia, some have ambiguous hormone levels, some have chromosomal differences, some have varying combinations of these and other factors. Ultimately, while we know that 1.7% of people are identifiably intersex, there are so, so many more that we can't identify because of how complicated the structure of biological sex is. In fact, many of us are probably not as clearly biologically male or female as we might think. You can't tell whether someone is intersex by looking at them.
Intersex individuals have historically been forced to undergo treatment that will make them appear as one sex or the other - which is considered a form of genital mutilation-, denying them the right to explain and live as they know themselves to be. Not all intersex people consider themselves to be LGBTQIA2S+. To learn more about intersex people and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
On this episode of the All Places Together Podcast, Pastor Colleen explores the smells of Christmas. The first Christmas that is. Listen now on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Don't forget to RSVP for our Zoom Blue Christmas Service happening tonight at 7 pm Central Time, 8 pm Eastern time.
Today we recognize the members of the pansexual community. Pansexual - sometimes referred to as "genderblind" - means that your sexual, emotional, or romantic attraction is to all genders or all people regardless of their gender. This also doesn't mean that pansexual people are attracted to any or everyone. They still have features or personalities that are particularly attractive to them, gender just usually isn't one of those particularly attractive things. Like most LGBTQIA2S+ identities, there is not single agreed upon definition or experience of being pansexual and this identity will be expressed differently by different individuals. This identity falls under the bisexuality umbrella.
To learn more about pansexuality and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
It's also #TheologicalThursday! Let us know what you think or wonder about God this week on the Technicolor Ministries socials!
Today we recognize those who are genderqueer. Genderqueer is an identity that falls under the nonbinary umbrella. At it's core the identities (genderqueer and nonbinary) are nearly identical and the terms are often used interchangeably, but functionally genderqueer takes a slightly different turn. To be genderqueer often means to identify as both, neither, or a combination of the male and female binary genders, but also to perform that genderqueer identity in ways that play with and subvert historical gender stereotypes. This identity is literally queering gender.
Genderqueer identity expression will look different for every person. Some genderqueer people might decide to change their name and/or pronouns, some might seek out ways to align their bodies and gender identity, and some might change the way they otherwise look or dress. Some may do none of these things. There is no right or wrong way to be genderqueer.
To learn more about genderqueer identity and how to be a better ally, check out the links below:
Christmas Eve Sermons Suck - Evolving Faith
In the LGBTQIA2S+ community, we have a tendency to fear the things that are good for us, or good for the community as a whole. When opened up to the opportunities that might allow us to be our whole selves, our first reaction is often to be afraid. There's a danger in changing the way that things have always been, in risking relationships, jobs, housing, and all sorts of other things on top of having to then exist as someone who is "different." This moment of fear is real and honorable after the track record the world has with us. And I imagine it's a little bit like the fear that the shepherds felt when visited by the angel, a fear that the angel knew was coming and so says "be not afraid." Sometimes, the best things for us are the things that we fear the most, the things that would cause the most change, the things that make us hesitate and sometimes choose not to do anything at all. And yet, here the shepherds go, crossing land that isn't theirs at a quick pace and leaving everything behind to see this child in a manger who will change everything.
As we enter a new year and welcome God into the world again, how might we also encounter God as they live within our very selves? How might we encounter that divince presence and attempt to display it, not with fear and hesitation but with determination? Or maybe excitement? How can you make haste towards the self God has revealed to you?
Today we recognize the LGBTQIA2S+ community as a whole. For far too long "the church" has done whatever it can to make LGBTQIA2S+ people feel like we don't belong in the church, and even worse, that we aren't loved by God. It's time for that to change. If you're curious about the LGBTQIA2S+ community or are interested in ways to be a better ally to the community, both in and outside of the church, check out some of the links below.